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decided reaction from the extreme emphasis laid formerly upon heredity. It is seen, too, that the state has a vital interest in the welfare of its children, and it is now the recognized duty of the state to see that the children within its borders are properly cared for, both for the sake of the child and for the future of the state. The recognition of the bad results of evil association has led the foremost states to forbid the keeping of children in almshouses. The same influence has led to the gradual adoption of the policy of placing children in family homes, whenever possible, instead of shutting them up in institutions, for it is felt that lessons of home life and individual responsibilty cannot well be taught to children en masse.
In dealing with children whose spirit of mischief, or lack of appreciation of law, has led them to commit some offence, there is a tendency to recognize other causes thau natural depravity. It is felt that the introduction to a cell and a trial in an ordinary police court do not always fill the youngster with a sense of his misdeeds and inspire him with respect for law and order. Nor have the usual punishments—the small fine, paid by his parents; confinement for a few days or weeks in a city reformatory or for a longer time in a state institution-always been efficacious. It is further recognized that the commission of a serious offence by no means necessarily indicates a greater moral perversion of the individual than does the commission of some petty larceny.
In a word, it is seen that the proper treatment of the delinquent and the neglected child is no simple matter, but requires expert service and expert knowledge of the conditions affecting child life. It requires, further, some clear conception of the probable effect both on the child and on society, of the punishment inflicted or the course of reformation and training selected. To prevent rather than punish, to form rather than reform, is the motto of the new school. This demand has led to the introduction of a children's court presided over by a judge specially fitted for the task.
Illinois had been slow to appreciate the advances made by many of her sister states in the care of children. There had been some mutterings of discontent, some protest. Grand juries had called attention to existing evils in such words as these: “Indeed, in the county jail we found children of nine years of age who had been bound over to the grand jury by incompetent or corrupt justices of the peace in disregard of the fact that the laws of Illinois recognize no capacity for crimi. nality in a child of that age.” In 1898 the people of the state were roused to a sense of the situation.
From the hearty co-operation of bar associations, women's clubs, charity societies and interested individuals, resulted a bill which, after losing many important features because of the opposition of certain institutions, was enacted and became effective July 1, 1899. It is a very comprehensive bit of legislation.
The spirit and aim of the law is well expressed by its last section : “This act shall be liberally construed to the end that its purpose may be carried out, to-wit, that the care, custody and discipline of a child shall approximate as nearly as may be that which should be given by its parents, and in all cases when it can properly be done, the child be placed in an approved family home and become a member of the family by adoption or otherwise.”
The law requires the state reformatories to have agents to examine the homes into which paroled childreu may go, fixes rules for the incorporation of charitable associations, regulates the importation of dependents into the state by foreign associations, authorizes the surrender of children for adoption, permits the appointment of county boards of visitors to investigate institutions and societies receiving children under the act, and also establishes in Cook County, in which Chicago is situate, a children's court, to be known as the Juvenile Court, before which court are tried all cases of children, dependent, neglected or delinquent, under the age of sixteen. The judge of the court was chosen by the judges of the circuit court of Cook County from their own number.
Any person having reason to believe that a child is delinquent, or that it is dependent upon the public for support, or that it is neglected and not properly cared for by its parents or guardians, or that it is sent out to beg, or that its home is an unfit place for a child, may file a petition alleging these facts. After the petition is filed the parents or guardians must be notified within twenty-four hours and summoned to appear in court at a fixed time. The child may be left with the parents or taken from them, pending the hearing, as seems best. The children arrested by the police are first brought before the justices, that trivial cases may be dismissed and the others transferred to the juvenile court, in accordance with the law. At the trial there may be a jury of six (it is required for commitment to the industrial schools under older laws), at the option of the judge or the guardians of the child. If it is found that the child is dependent, it thenceforth becomes the ward of the court. The judge may give the child to some society, place it in an institution, or commit it to some individual. Such commitment conveys the right to place the child in a home and to consent to the adoption of the child, but does not convey the guardianship of property. If the child is proven to be delinquent, the judge may bind him over to the grand jury, if commitment to the state reformatory seems best (the law authorizes the juvenile court to make
such commitments, but the higher courts having ruled that this institution is a penal institution, an indictment is necessary), he may commit a boy to the city reformatory, or a girl to the state reform school at Geneva, may put the child in the care of some association to be boarded out, or may parole him to some responsible individual who will look after him and encourage him to do better without commitment to any institution. The commitment of any child under the age of twelve to jail is expressly forbidden.
To enable the court to maintain its hold upon the children who may be paroled, the law authorizes the appointment of judicious persons as probation officers who hold commissions from the court. It is the duty of these officers to make such investigations as the court may desire, to represent the interests of the child at court, to take such charge of the paroled children and make regular reports to the court as to the behavior of the children in their care. Judge Richard S. Tuthill, the judge of the court, has said that the probation system is the keystone of the court.
The general plan of the court was excellent but failure seemed likely at first as the law provided no means for its own enforcement. It forbade the keeping of the children under detention in any jail or police station. Chicago had no other place and no money. A prisoners' aid society offered its building and the offer was accepted for the care of the boys, the girls and some of the younger boys being cared for in the detention hospital by the county as heretofore. It provided for probation officers and gave them important duties but made no provision for the payment of their salaries or expenses. Through the efforts of a couple of societies, the Chicago Woman's Club and a few interested persons the services of three officers were given to the court. This number bas been increased to twelve. The judge requested the mayor to have an officer in each police district detailed for work with the children's cases and this was at once done. Some individuals have been appointed in special cases. A chief probation officer was secured by having Mr. T. D. Hurley, of the Visitation and Aid Society, appointed assistant corporation counsel and stationed in the juvenile court. In this way it has been possible to carry the law into effect though not so completely as is desired.
The task of a probation officer is not small. The paroled boy or girl must be visited at home. The officer must see that the child goes to school or keeps regularly at work. He must labor with the parents to remove friction and help them to make the home attractive. The paroled boy is made to feel that the probation officer is a friend to whom be may appeal for assistance yet he realizes that this friend may, at times, speak with even greater authority than a teacher or
parent. The relation between the child and the probation officer often becomes very intimate. The influence upon the child varies, of course, but is often great. The child kuows that an unfavorable report may result in his recall and possibly in his commitment to an institution. The knowledge of this constant oversight, and the further realization that it is harder to work upon the sympathy of the officer than upon that of the parents, tends to keep the boy in the right way.
Nor is the influence of the probation officer upon the home life and the rest of the family to be ignored. A tactful officer becomes a welcome guest in many a home, for the mother is mindful of the fact that in the officer she has an ally in preserving order. Lessons of neatness and cleanliness may be given and the tone of the family raised. Again. the knowledge that severe measures may be taken, if necessary, spurs on negligent or unwilling parents to better things and reacts to the benefit of the child.
The court room itself is an interesting place. It is Monday morning and the cases of dependent children are being heard. The judge is in the chair. Behind him is a group of visitors. Below, on the left, is the jury, and beside them the probation officers and representatives of various societies. In the rear, quite out of hearing of the evidence, are the children whose cases are being tried and behind them the friends and witnesses. The clerk cries : “The case of Victoria Ratthowski,” The witnesses come forward and are sworn. sentative of a children's society outlines the case. Victoria had been picked up on the street. She had been begging and had a basket in her hand. Once before she had been found begging but had given a false name and address. This time the agent took her into custody and filed a petition in the court. Through an agent of the Bureau of Associated Charities the parents were found. The girl had told a pitiful story of an absent father and a mother unable to work, and of great poverty. On investigation the absent father proved to be in the employ of the city, earning some ten dollars per week and owning his home. The invalid mother proved to be a robust woman, There is little defense. It is clear that the parents have sent the child to beg though they deny it. The judge grows stern. It is an aggravated case. At first the judge thinks to send the child to an institution. Finally he calls the parents before him, tells them of the great offense they had committed and, on their promise that the girl will be sent to school and not to beg, he allows them to take her home. A probation officer is appointed to look after the case and the family is given a chance to redeem itself. Cases of all sorts follow. All are sad, some pathetic, some heartrending. The judge listens patiently to each and makes such order as seems best. Two
boys whose mother is unable to care for them for a time are sent to an industrial school conducted by the Catholics as the mother is a member of that church. A deserted child is given to a child saving society. A man asks for the custody of a child left at his home some years ago.
а This is granted subject to the approval of the Children's Home and Aid Society.
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons the delinquent cases are heard. The boy truant becomes the boy mischievous and innocent mischief is rare in a big city. Junk dealers encourage the boys to steal lead and brass. Evil companions get him into trouble. If possible the judge will put the boy on parole unless home conditions are too bad, and if the record of the boy is fairly good. How successful this work of probation may be it is hard to say. Massachusetts seems satisfied with her experiment and other states are following her lead. Much has been accomplished in Illinois though the probation officers are overworked. Imagine successful and satisfactory work with one hundred boys paroled to one officer in addition to his other duties! Out of 1,339 delinquent boys before the court during the year ending June 30, 1900, 1,095 were paroled, and of these only 203 were returned to the court. There were also released from the city reformatory on parole 256 boys of whom but 23 were remanded.
Appreciation of the value and importance of the court grows steadily. The judge had few precedents when he began and had to feel his way. To-day he is the enthusiastic advocate of the court. The other circuit judges who have acted as supply judges have become much interested in the court. Venerable Judge Tuley said : juvenile court is the greatest work of the kind ever undertaken in Illinois. More can be done in ten years in the juvenile court to suppress crime than can be accomplished in fifty years in the criminal court.” The state's attorney has said that the expenses of the crimi. nal court have materially decreased because of the operation of the law. Before the enactment of the law there were constantly from forty to fifty boys in jail awaiting hearing. During the last year only thirty-seven boys were held for the grand jury from the juvenile court.
Results may not be measured so soon. Gains however are evident. Because of the court much of the practice of the shyster police court lawyer is gone. It is now possible to get at the child beggar in an effective manner and begging is becoming more unpopular. Baby farms are coming under the purview of the court. Parents are learn. ing that it is not safe to neglect their children. Many people are learning for the first time to respect law, particularly applied law. Whatever defects there are, and there are many, whatever additions